The action genre is one of the toughest things to get right on mobile. There’s a level of complexity to fast-paced violence that doesn’t translate that well to touchscreen controls.
But there are games that have done it right, and Bushido Bear follows in their footsteps. It simplifies things, but it does it without stripping away the challenge or fun that goes hand in hand with running around with some massive swords.
There are shades of Fruit Ninja here, as well as Combo Crew, all mixed together with Spry Fox’s gorgeous art style and a smattering of ideas from more recent arcade-style titles.
The game is all about controlling ninja bears, as you might expect from the title. You’re the guardian of a forest that’s being taken over by gross monsters, and it’s up to you to hack them down to size.
You do this by swiping on the screen. The idea here isn’t to barge through your enemies, but to slide next to them with your massive swords unsheathed. Smashing into a bad guy kills your bear, and you don’t want that to happen.
As well as swiping you can tap the screen to dodge. This is useful against enemies that fire projectiles, and also lets you plan a massive combo-filling attack that takes down a bunch of monsters in one fell swipe.
You can take up to three bears into battle with you. When one of them dies, you get the chance to avenge it, darting into battle with an invincible fury that lasts for a handful of seconds. The enemies come in waves, and the deeper you get into proceedings the tougher those waves get. There are huge bosses to take down, and daily challenges to complete.
Ticking off the challenges unlocks new stages for you to hack your way through, and there’s a Crossy Road-style character collection system involving nabbing coins to spend on new sword-wielding bears. And if that wasn’t enough you can upgrade your ursine warriors as well, making them even more fearsome combatants. There’s plenty going on here, and more than enough to make sure that you’re at least dipping in and out on a regular basis.
Bushido Bear deftly mixes the hardcore with the casual. Anyone can pick it up and have a go, but there are deeper strategies and tactics lying beneath the gorgeous cartoon graphics for more seasoned action fans to try and dig up.
It feels like there’s always something cool waiting around the next corner, and you’ll push to complete the extra goals to unlock the next bear in your collection.
Sure, it might not be as compulsive as some games out there, and that’s in part down to the slightly more involved control and upgrade system – you’re not just tapping to get a high score, you’re rolling up your sleeves to show the forest who’s boss.
But what Bushido Bear does best is making you feel like a legendary, slightly furry, samurai. When you’re carving up waves of enemies it’s hard not to smile like a demented loon. Racking up combos is a joy, and the vengeance system means you’ll always want to jump back in when you’ve made a mistake.
This is a great looking arcade experience that plays like a dream, and will likely spend a good long while on the home page of your device.